What to Expect in a Telephone Interview

What to Expect in a Telephone Interview

Telephone Interviews – What to Expect and How to Prepare

Many companies make use of telephone interviews – usually this stage of the recruitment process comes before a face-to-face interview. Companies may use telephone interviews as it is easy to terminate the call if it quickly becomes clear that they would not be interested in taking the individual’s application further.

Employers sometimes make use of telephone interviews, but recruitment agencies are much more likely to telephone candidates and ask them questions about their skills and experience, in order to assess their suitability for roles they are handling.

If you are selected for a telephone interview, your preparation should be no less thorough than for a face-to-face interview. There is no reason why a telephone interview should necessarily be an informal chat, and no reason why an employer cannot use a telephone interview to ask about: your reasons for wanting the role, your reasons for wanting to change jobs, your understanding of the nature of the role and the company and your skills and experience. Competency-based questions, where you are asked to provide detailed responses giving previous examples of when you have demonstrated a particular skill, could also form part of a telephone interview.

Creating the right impression is also vital in a telephone interview. In a face-to-face interview, the following can all be used to assess you:

  • The level of courtesy and politeness you display
  • The level of enthusiasm you display for the role and the company
  • The tone of voice you use
  • Your general appearance
  • Your body language

Clearly, all but the last two can be assessed equally well via a telephone conversation.

In the modern world, many people prefer text, instant messaging and email communication to holding a telephone conversation. If an employer conducts a telephone interview with you, it may therefore be difficult to adjust. Ask a friend or family member to offer constructive criticism on how you come across on the phone, and use their feedback to improve your telephone manner.

Additional points to consider include:

  • Give the call your undivided attention – don’t try and complete household chores or read your emails at the same time
  • Ensure there is no background noise – wherever possible, you should try and arrange telephone interviews for when you are at home. If possible, and if you have one, the call should also be done on your landline. If it does have to be done on your mobile, try and find a quiet place with good reception, and ensure the phone is fully charged. Advise the people you live with that you don’t want to be disturbed, and turn off the TV and radio.
  • Have a copy of your CV and the job description to hand during the call
  • Answer the call with your name and ‘Good morning/afternoon’
  • Write down any questions that occur to you as the conversation progresses

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